Guiding Light’s Olivia and Natalia, Part 2: The Kiss and Beyond

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Cate points out All My Children’s gay storyline initially caused a furor that later died down as viewers “warmed up to the character” … adds Blake, “I hope GL does not get my hopes up about this great couple only to break them up” … and more. See Comments below.

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Guiding Light’s “Otalia” pairing — Olivia and Natalia — are garnering a lot of buzz. Soap fans, as well as sites like the lesbian entertainment-themed AfterEllen.com, are watching to see if that friendship potentially becomes something more. This week, the story takes a step in that direction when Olivia and Natalia kiss.

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OliviaBy Patrick Erwin 

Regarding: The Kiss,  it looks like Guiding Light is testing the waters. To me, the upcoming scenes — done in a clever way that lets the show “have it both ways”, so to speak — scream “test run” with the future direction of the story depending on the audience’s reaction.

Personally, I’m torn about the story. On the one hand, I want there to be visible LGBT characters on our screens and it Nataliawould be great for GL to tackle that sort of story, since it has not done so to date. I appreciate that GL is really taking a risk and embracing a really progressive, emotional topic.

My minor concerns about this story come from the fact that we haven’t seen ANY suggestion of ambiguous sexual orientation from either character.

Many of the gay and lesbian storylines on daytime that we’ve seen thus far have worked because the characters were young characters and we saw their coming-out process. All My Children‘s Bianca is a great example of that. And a late-in-life coming out story, like As the World Turns’ Brian, can also be very true to life.

I’m not suggesting it couldn’t, or shouldn’t happen, and with great writing and acting, it would be a great journey to watch. But when many people in this country still think that being gay is a choice, it’s a slippery slope to have characters make this change so abruptly.

I’ll be glued to my TV screen either way, but I have to say that even as the story is now, there’s a great beauty to watching these people care for one another and become one another’s family. And I loved Friday’s scenes, where Olivia talked about feeling different and feeling like an outsider in school. Those are relatable scenes not only for LGBT people but for all of us. When you feel like an outsider, it’s a huge joy to have that family around you; sometimes the family you choose is the most
meaningful one.

No matter what the outcome, I hope GL doesn’t shy away from this relationship and never hits the panic button to dismiss it. This is one core family I’d love to see stick around!

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Patrick Erwin blogs regularly at  A Thousand Other Worlds …

Comments

  1. KMartin says:

    I actually don’t see a problem with GL exploring two people of the same sex falling in love with each other despite never showing an ounce of doubt in the past. There are a lot of married homosexuals and we wouldn’t know it unless they informed us. I’m not saying Olivia and Natalia are gay because I don’t believe they are. However, I do believe in two people falling in love with each other despite their gender.

    Some people just let love happen regardless of the gender of their attraction and they don’t feel the need to label it or themselves. They don’t feel the need to declare whether they were born this way. They just let it be. Some people are born homosexual. Some people are born heterosexual. Some people are born bisexual.

    Why can’t a story be told for all of those circumstances? Add Natalia’s religious beliefs and you have a great story if written properly. It might not turn out how I would like but I’m willing to take the ride. We live in a diverse world and if some people are closed-minded enough to think that you choose your sexuality, then it should be required for them to watch this storyline.

  2. Peter says:

    I’m not LGBT, although I have brother that is, and also have had friends that are. And I have a little possibility of bi-sexual curiosity in me, although I am more into women.

    Just want to correct a misconception that you have about not showing LGBT tendencies being proof that someone wouldn’t ever be LGBT.

    That’s completely not true! Many LGBT people may not realize that they are lesbian, gay or bisexual or transgendered for a # of years before they admit to themselves. They might even have some satisfying straight sexual experiences (i.e. as Olivia & Natalia have apparently both had — I don’t watch the show that much, but have read enough to know what I’m writing about) before figuring out that they are LGBT.

    If I understand biological psychology, from what I have read and seen and talked about with my psychotherapist in terms of my own bi-sexual curiousity, even if LGBT is a biological component of a person and hard-wired in them, many times a person can still have satisfying straight sexual experiences for many years before understanding that they are LGBT. Just because one is LGBT DOES NOT always mean that they might not enjoy some straight sexual experiences.

    There is a book that my psychotherapist recently recommended I read (that I would hope maybe the PTB at GL might be reading in writing the Olivia – Natalia storyline) entitled “The Bisexual Option” by Fritz Klein (1993) that explains that there is not a clear black & white just straight or totally gay or lesbian option in anyone, but there are shades in between with most if not all people be them LGBT or straight.

    I think Klein’s “The Bisexual Option” would be a good recommendation for anyone to read, even if GL doesn’t carry on fully with a lesbian relationship between Olivia & Natalia.

    Here is a website that reviews Fritz Klein’s book:

    http://www.bisexual.org/thebisexualoption.html

  3. Blake says:

    I love that the show went through with this (even after PGP dropped the ball with ATWT’s Luke and Noah many times) and I hope that they keep it going for a long time.

    I do agree that it does look bad in regards of gay lifestyle having that “it is a choice” argument, but it’s great to see GL finally have a gay couple or characters. Plus Olivia and Natalia have great chemistry. I hope the show does not get my hopes up about this great couple only to break it up (just like they did with Marina and Cyrus and Mallet and Dinah, moves I’ll never understand!)

  4. Cate says:

    I don’t think it would necessarily make same-sex relationships look like a choice. I’m not lesbian or bisexual but I’ve heard plenty of stories about gay and bisexual people discovering same-sex attraction later in life. Sexuality can be complex. I’m not a frequent GL viewer but based on what I’ve seen of GL a bisexuality storyline would make the most sense for the characters if they do go in that direction.

    If GL is looking to test audience reaction than their looking for excuses to bail on this story. Based on my experiences watching AMC the beginning of these same-sex stories are when reaction is at its most heated and negative. When Bianca came out on AMC nearly a decade ago there was a huge negative reaction. But TPTB stuck to their guns and forged ahead and continued telling her story. The backlash died down and many people who were initially against it warmed up to the character and wanted to see her get a love life.

    Some caution is understandable but it takes some commitment and fortitude to do these stories. If GL wants to this story than they should go ahead and do it and not backtrack and ditch the relationship. They don’t have anything to lose at this time so why not?

  5. rain says:

    I like the Olivia-Natalia tension, and how they are portraying Olivia as sort of just catching on with her own feelings. It’s like she is just “getting it” while she is trying to get Natalia to understand. CC’s look after the kiss was very interesting, almost like she was saying “OMG” to herself.

  6. Michele says:

    As you said – it’s all in the telling. Someone very wise said, while discussing this story with me, that right now we are in chapter 3 of a very long story.

    GL, if handled right, has the opportunity to tell a realistic tale in a way that any audience member could understand the reasons why a romantic love story. GL will have to explore Nat’s religious beliefs. For Liv – her past and her present will certainly provide great emotional material for CC.

    Sexuality for some people is fluid no matter at what age a person finds that ‘soulmate’ . These two have wonderful chemistry and the storytelling up til this point has been carefully layered.

    Thanks for highlighting them.

  7. Katie says:

    I think this just shows that you fall in love with the person not the gender. Plus its the most interesting storyline they have going on right now and the actresses are knocking it out of the park.

  8. James says:

    Patrick,

    This Otalia storyline feels so very organic. Just feels like a very natural progression of their friendship and then moving in together.

    And Emma’s presentation at school was wonderful. So true to how a 6 year old woudl see it as having two mommies without realizing the political implications of that statement.

    Have many lesbian friends, many of whom didn’t realize they were gay until later in life. So Olivia and Natalia falling for each other seems like it’s reflecting real life, which GL is striving for more these days.

    And sexuality is fluid, especially it seems in women. In the LGBT community, there are phenomenons know as LUG (Lebsian Until Graduation (as in college graduation)) and LAM (Lesbian After Menopause).

    So, I say BRAVA to GL for going there. And if they choose to go further with this, I will be cheering them on. And if not, I’m happy they were willing to take this much of a risk.

  9. Erik says:

    Them being gay or not aside, I think these two ladies and their friendship is really compelling. The way they get around with each other is really cool to be witness to. They are definately the Odd Couple of GL.

    The kiss was gimmackie to me. However, that doesn’t mean the next kiss has to be as well. And if done right, I’m convinced it will take some time to get to a legit kiss. That’s just the nature of the relationship with these two never being gay and the fact they have been only friends for awhile. It will take time for Natalia to get “there” given her religous beliefs on top of her life long hetrosexuality as well.

    One idea that popped in my mind was doing flashback scenes of when these two women were finding out about themselves as teens. If they want to go in that direction, it could smooth the idea over a little. Who was Natalia before Gus? Who was Olivia before she was raped? Anyways, this is just a thought. It could move the gay part of it along quicker.

    Finally, I’m amazed this story is even on Guiding Light, because this is the worst writeen show going. When I came into this story I was shocked. Where did this come from? I caught up on it by way of YouTube and was pleasently surprised. Did the crap writers pass this off to someone they just picked up off the street? Now that it is popular, will the crap writers take it back and ruin it? Either way, I’ll enjoy it while it last.

    Erik

  10. Kade says:

    I love seeing you mention AfterElton! Have you ever read the weekly international soap column over there? I think you’d love it, changes every Monday, here’s the link to last week’s…

    http://www.afterelton.com/TV/gayslives/01-19-09

    Kade

  11. antmunoz says:

    But is it too much to want this story to be about a romantic rivalry turned FRIENDSHIP? It’s fascinating just the way it is. GL used to have “girlfriends.” Harley, Blake, Cassie, Mel. Reva and Cassie, pre-Nicole Forester. Reva and Selena. Vanessa and Maureen. I can see years of storyline potential for Olivia and Natalia without a romantic involvement, or even another rivalry. And while I could buy Olivia falling for Natalia after years of really bad relationships with men, Natalia seems very solidly heterosexual to me. Gus is barely cold to her, even for a soap. (Why she refers to herself as “Natalia RIVERA” and not “Aitoro” puzzles me. As does “Emma SPENCER,” not “Spaulding.”) I’d simply like to see the friendship continue, and if Blake could click with these two to create a new group of friends, I’d be thrilled. That woman needs someone other than Matt Reardon to hang around with!

  12. Levi says:

    From watching a middle aged woman like Olivia contmeplating her sexuality is a great story to tell. Just like Brian, we are seeing characters who can emerge with the times from 20 yrs ago when they were young and couldn’t publicly display to others their gay feelings. I look at my own family and feel fortunate that I can come out so young whereas others waited till they were 50 or so and have marriages that didn’t last. This is a testament to the times that I can enjoy Luke and Noah as well as Scotty and Kevin on Brothers and Sisters.

    I am not convinced this will be a lesbian romance. I think this should be explored real slow because we don’t know the exact feelings conveyed as of yet. Only time will tell where their feelings ago. Natalia is very confused about life in general and she needs to do some soul searching within about life. Going out with Frank as a boyfriend won’t do her much good at this point. She needs to really see a psychiatrist (Felicia perhaps) and get help on where her feelings for Olivia lie.

    Olivia does need to get help for her past as well. The rape affected her and were their feelings for the same sex beforehand or after the rape? GL needs to address all this first. GL’s problem is they don’t finish stories out on all fronts. With four headwriters this should not be a problem (you would think?).

    I am hoping daytime will continue to address GLBT issues in a positive light. To further the cause, we need to reach out to viewers to see us as romantic couples yearning for the same things straight people get——–recognized love. As well as for people to take seriously and not as a joke. I know open minded people out there are wonderful and I thank them for being supportive for their friends and loved ones. If daytime could reach a few soap viewers a day that might have offensive views and make them rethink their views about gay people—it would help so much.

    So GL, please stay the course with this story. This could help generate soem buzz for the show just like Luke and Noah did. Not just them possibly being lesbians, but for two actresses who have amazing chemistry.

  13. Daniel Rand says:

    I think antmunoz hit on what I like about this storyline: friendship! That has been lacking on GL in recent times. I recall one soap columnist (was it Marlena?) who said that one of soap opera’s greatest couples of all time was Phillip Spaulding and Rick Bauer. Nothing sexual; just two genuine friends that the audience rooted for. When Phillip slept and impregnated Rick’s wife Meredith, Meredith was the supporting player in that storyline because it was all about a testing of that great friendship.

    Olivia and Natalia have the same potential. I think this may be the point of this storyline, actually…that true friendship takes all forms. Alan, Doris, the schoolteacher, the parents at Towers…everyone has leapt to the conclusion that if two women live together, care for each other and participate in each other’s lives that they must be lesbians! If they were siblings, such questions would never arise. I find it interesting how observers of the Aitoro/Spencer household feel the need to inject a sexual element…do they think that love cannot exist without it?

    I may be in the minority in hoping the sexual element does not come to pass…not that I have a problem with gay characters, but it runs the risk of camp to have two well-established heterosexual characters decide to turn gay all of a sudden (especially when they were in love with the same man one year ago). I also worry that the characters could be written into a corner (or out completely) if GL lasts a few more years.

    But mostly, I like the idea of seeing an actual, honest friendship. Soaps have forgotten that not every storyline has to focus on a super-couple (Frank and Harley were another non-traditional “super couple”, I always thought). There are stories that can center on best friends, co-workers, colleagues or family members…and soaps used to write them.

  14. dj shiva says:

    I have to take issue when people use the concept “all of a sudden decided to turn gay” or anything to that effect.

    I think the best thing about this storyline thus far, is that you really get the full impact of a steady move toward closeness, the slow-burn of underlying attraction, and the “OMG” shock of realizing that your best bud is actually your soulmate and you cannot think of life without them.

    That’s not “deciding” to be gay. That’s an organic emotional journey, ending in a massive realization that you cannot deny. The heart does what the heart does. And realizing where the heart has taken you is an emotional moment, not one based in the logic and rationality of “choice”.

  15. Kerry says:

    Throughout my college years and for nearly two decades of my professional life I had relationships with men. So when I fell in love with a woman, I had no idea what had hit me. But there it was…love, respect, humor, a complete and utterly surprising love. So, from my perspective, this storyline is not beyond reality’s reach. I went through so many of the same questions, the same fears, the same hopes. I’m amazed at the level of humanity and humor that the actresses bring to their roles. It’s fun to watch. So who know what will become of these to characters and their relationship…I can tell you that I still have mine after 14 years.

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